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United Nations Daily Highlights, 03-05-22

United Nations Daily Highlights Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The United Nations Home Page at <http://www.un.org> - email: unnews@un.org

HIGHLIGHTS

OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY FRED ECKHARD

SPOKESMAN FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

UN

HEADQUARTERS, NEW YORK

Thursday, May 22, 2003

SECURITY COUNCIL LIFTS IRAQ SANCTIONS, DEFINES UN ROLE IN IRAQ

Shortly after 10 a.m., the Security Council adopted resolution 1483 (2003) on Iraq with 14 votes in favor, and none against, with Syria not participating in the voting, which lifts all sanctions on Iraq, except those dealing with arms.

The resolution also calls on the Security General to appoint a Special Representative with responsibilities in humanitarian and reconstruction affairs. The Security Council decides to revisit, at a later date, the mandates of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Iraq.

In addition, the resolution calls for the activities of the Oil for Food Programme to be terminated within six months. It creates a Development Fund for Iraq to be financed by the sale of oil products, which will be used to meet the needs of the Iraqi people.

Following the vote, statements were made by the 14 members present in the Security Council chamber and the Secretary-General.

ANNAN PROMISES TO NAME SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE "WITHOUT DELAY"

The Secretary-General said that we should all be gratified that the Council has come together to chart the way forward in Iraq. He said that the mandate the Council has given the United Nations involves complex and difficult tasks, but promised that the UN would carry it out to the best of its ability.

He told the Council, Whatever differences there have been in the recent past, we now have a new basis on which to work. The most important task, he added, would be to ensure that the people of Iraq are able to form a free and representative government of their own choice, through a transparent and impartially managed political process, as soon as possible.

The Secretary-General noted that the resolution asks him to name a Special Representative to lead the UN side, and promised, I will do so without delay.

Speaking to reporters afterward, he said that he was not in a position to name a Special Representative now, but added that the Representative would go to Iraq as soon as practicable.

Asked about todays resolution, the Secretary-General said it gives a role to the United Nations, in which it would work with the occupying power and the Iraqi people, and he added, The resolution gives the international community a legal basis for its activities in Iraq.

SECURITY SITUATION IN IRAQ NEEDS TO IMPROVE

Following the vote, the Security Council began a separate, open briefing on the humanitarian situation in Iraq.

In opening the meeting, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said that while a major humanitarian crisis has been averted so far, the civilian population and children in particular remain at risk, particularly if the security situation does not improve.

She added that the UNs ability to respond to urgent needs depends greatly on whether the necessary resources are available. To date, she said, donors had made $700 million dollars.

Following her presentation representatives of the UN Development Programme, the UN Childrens Fund, the World Health Organization and the World Food Programme, as well as the International Committee for the Red Cross addressed the Council.

James Morris, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, announced that full food distribution to the entire population of Iraq will begin on June 1st, through 44,000 food agents in place across the country.

ANNAN DEEPLY SADDENED BY ALGERIA QUAKE, UN MOBILIZES TO ASSIST VICTIMS

The Secretary-General, in a statement issued by his Spokesman, was deeply saddened by the heavy loss of life, injuries and destruction caused by a powerful earthquake yesterday in Algeria. The Secretary-General extends his sincere condolences to the families of the deceased, and to the Government of Algeria.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has already provided an emergency cash grant of $50,000. A UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team has been deployed to support the Algerian Government in the coordination of the international response, and to assist in assessing priority needs. To mobilize and coordinate international relief efforts, the United Nations has been in touch with several governments, who have put Search and Rescue (SAR) teams and relief supplies on stand-by.

FIGHTING REPORTED IN NORTHERN ITURI, IN DR CONGO

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, fighting has been reported in northern Ituri, in the area of Aru.

In Bunia, Hema militias remain in control of the town, while Lendu militias are located in the southern outskirts. The UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) continues to meet the Chiefs of Staff of the two militias on a regular basis, and are presently working out a plan for the cantonment of their combatants, which will be discussed with the interim administration tomorrow.

The United Nations continues to patrol Bunia. It is also investigating reports that anti-personal mines have been freshly laid in the town.

Over 300 bodies have thus far been discovered, including some 32 bodies in a water-tank near the old governors residence. The United Nations is investigating this incident.

There has been no significant change in the status of internal displaced persons. The United Nations continues to encourage the displaced persons to move from the Headquarters area to the airport; 400 moved yesterday. The United Nations is also assisting humanitarian agencies to meet the needs of the displaced. More than 5 tons of food were distributed to 1,800 families yesterday.

CAREER U.S. DIPLOMAT TO BECOME NEW HEAD OF UN MISSION IN DR CONGO

The Secretary-General has informed the Security Council that he intends to appoint William Lacy Swing to succeed Amos Namanga Ngongi as his Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Ngongi will conclude his assignment on 30 June 2003, and Swings appointment will take effect 1 July.

William Swing was the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Western Sahara since November 2001. Prior to that, he was a career U.S. diplomat who served as a U.S. Ambassador mainly in Africa.

In his letter to the Secuirty Council, the Secretary-General expressed deep appreciation for the outstanding work of Ngongi, in particular, his considerable contribution to the recent progress in the peace process in the country.

INSECURITY FORCE SUSPENSION OF DE-MINING IN SOUTHWEST AFGHANISTAN

The UN Mission in Afghanistan confirmed today that activities of the UN Mine Action Centre in Afghanistan (UNMACA) have been suspended in ten provinces in south west and south eastern Afghanistan due to security conditions in those areas.

This decision follows a series of ambushes involving de-mining vehicles which has left one Afghan NGO worker dead and 8 injured, of which three were seriously hurt.

De-mining equipment has been moved into other areas where de-mining work will be continuing. The UN Mine Action Centre will be reviewing the situation in approximately six weeks time.

WHO ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH PRIVATE SECTOR TO FIGHT SARS

The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced the creation of a new public-private initiative to fight Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and build capacity for surveillance, epidemiology, and public health laboratory facilities in China and the surrounding region.

Despite the rapid and effective response from partners around the world, SARS exposes fundamental weaknesses in global health infrastructure, said Dr. Jong-Wook Lee, Director-General Elect of WHO. This new fund and other initiatives will help prepare the world to respond to future emerging diseases.

Lee also expressed his support for an intensified engagement against HIV/AIDS, and ensures WHO leadership toward the so-called bold three-by-five target, which aims to have three million people in developing countries on antiretroviral treatment by 2005.

In other news, WHO said that despite the availability of a safe, highly effective and inexpensive vaccine, measles affects over 30 million children and claims the lives of almost 750 000 each year. Of all vaccine-preventable diseases, measles remains the leading killer of children, but it can effectively be prevented by using the WHO/UNICEF Comprehensive Immunization Strategy. If implemented correctly, this strategy could prevent 2.3 million child deaths in Africa over the next 10 years.

UN AGENCY AIDING PALESTINIANS FACES MAJOR FUNDING SHORTFALL

Peter Hansen, the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), told a meeting of donors in Amman, Jordan, that UNRWA has received pledges of only $34 million against the $94 million it needs to carry out emergency operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the first half of 2003.

This funding shortfall comes amid growing hardship and desperation in the occupied Palestinian territories, where demands for UNRWA services are increasing. More than one million people in the West Bank and Gaza now rely on UNRWA for food aid. More than 12,000 refugees have lost their homes to demolitions and need humanitarian assistance from UNRWA. Thousands of children in UNRWA schools have been traumatized by violence and require counseling.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

WESTERN SAHARA: Security Council consultations on Western Sahara have been postponed from tomorrow to next Tuesday afternoon.

KOSOVO: The UN Mission in Kosovo reports that the repatriation of mortal remains believed to belong to Kosovars who had been in Serbia proper will be completed tomorrow, when a group of 29 mortal remains will be handed over to family representatives and a group reburial will take place outside of the town of Meja.

BIO DIVERSITY: In his message on the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity, the Secretary-General said that unless we stop the loss of biological resources, the Millennium Development Goals will be much more difficult, if not impossible, to reach. He said biological diversity is a widely under-appreciated resource that plays a crucial role in sustainable development and the eradication of poverty as it provides millions of people with livelihoods, helps to ensure food security and is a rich source of traditional medicines and modern pharmaceuticals. Stopping its loss, he concluded, should be high propriety for everyone.

CARPATHIANS: A major new agreement on the environment has been adopted by Ministers from Central and Eastern Europe in Kiev today. The Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians will conserve Europes greatest reserve of untouched forest and large carnivores and will benefit isolated mountain communities.

RELIGIOUS EDUCATION: The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, says religious education is on the rise in public schools around the world. In 73 of the 140 countries surveyed, religious education is compulsory and there is a visible increase in the amount of time spent on the subject since the last survey 10 years ago.

style="font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-weight: Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General

United Nations, S-378

New York, NY 10017

Tel. 212-963-7162 - press/media only

Fax. 212-963-7055

All other inquiries to be addressed to (212) 963-4475 or by e-mail to: inquiries@un.org


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